Traveler engagement is the topic of the day in the industry. At the ITM Conference 2017 it’s just been broadcast as one of the key issues of the future. But what does it actually mean? We know about the importance of communication and trust, but how can we become more engaging with our travellers? Why should we?

Let’s have another look at this topic du jour.

Communication is important – we all agree about that. It serves to pass on information, and that’s how it’s been traditionally used. However, there’s another side to communication: receiving information. Starting a dialogue that involves talking as much as listening. It’s the core of engagement.

In corporate travel, travellers think that booking is a simple matter of a few clicks (or a phone call). They don’t see the support network in place to provide duty-of-care, safety and best value for the company’s travel spend. Yet, once we start communicating with them, their understanding brings great benefits:

1.      Compliance

Communication to drive compliance is mostly done through explanations. Especially the younger generations won’t do as they’re told without having a reason to buy into it. So don’t just send email after email reminding employees of the travel policy; rather explain why you have a policy in the first place and how it works in favour of your travellers. Give them options to feedback what works and what doesn’t and take action accordingly.

2.      Trust

Knowing why there is a travel programme in place will help in fostering trust between travel managers and travellers. Remember, trust builds when someone knows someone else is looking after them and genuinely caring for their safety and well-being. Taking action on feedback is also a great way to build and maintain that trusted relationship.

3.      Ownership & Feedback

Taking a communication strategy seriously, and following up on traveller thoughts and concerns, means employees will develop a sense of ownership. And once employees feel they ‘own’ the travel programme, they won’t feel the need to book elsewhere. Rather, they’ll tell all their peers how important it is to stay in policy.

4.      Performance

Trusting the travel program and booking inside policy means the traveller can focus on the work, rather than trying to find a better deal and losing time searching the web. This is not only making the employee’s life easier, it’s also benefiting the company’s bottom line.

There are, of course, many other benefits employees have from traveller engagement: improved relationships, sharing knowledge and understanding of (cultural) differences, better trading success and finding new business opportunities.